Welch dismisses rumors, confirms 8th Army will stand fast on troop curfews
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. military officials are not reconsidering the off-post buddy policy and nightly curfews, 8th Army’s top enlisted leader said Friday.
Command Sgt. Major Troy Welch, responding to callers on his monthly “From the Top” radio program, said there’s no truth to rumors that the command will lift its curfews of midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on holidays and weekends.
“No,” Welch said simply, when one caller asked if a change was coming.
“The reason why is that it’s a safety thing and a force protection issue,” Welch explained. “It’s a readiness issue, and I just don’t see that happening. It’s a program placed into effect by the command, as is the buddy system, for the protection of servicemembers and to keep them from getting into trouble.”
U.S. military “courtesy patrols,” along with Korean National Police, routinely patrol nightlife areas near military installations, enforcing the curfew and keeping soldiers out of off-limits establishments.
In addressing other concerns, Welch also said the recent school-crowding problems at bases in Pyongtaek would not be repeated as more U.S. forces are shifted south from Seoul and areas north.
“We are fully aware of the situation,” he said, noting military officials are reassessing the housing, schools, exchange services and other facilities at Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Base, which will expand into the new U.S. troop hubs in South Korea.
“These things are all being looked at. Once they make that move, these things will be in place,” Welch said.
Welch also said he was unaware of any plans to stop providing free movies at Army and Air Force Exchange Service theaters on base. Currently, he said, 8th Army and Morale, Welfare and Recreation pay about $1.2 million a year so that military community members don’t have to buy tickets.
And, Welch plugged the Oct. 2 Sergeants Major Chili Cook-Off, on Yongsan Garrison. Twenty-five teams of South Korean and U.S. soldiers will compete in a chili cook-off, which serves as a Yongsan community fund raiser.